As the war in Ukraine continues and the humanitarian crisis worsens, ARTICLE 19 expresses solidarity with the millions of people suffering violent attacks by Russian forces.
This is a war against humanity, human dignity, human rights, and democracy. It is also an information war, one which the Russian Federation has brought upon its own citizens.
ARTICLE 19, along with human rights organisations around the globe, calls on governments and tech companies to support an open Internet and refrain from blocking Russia civil society from this essential means of communication and receiving information.
For years, the Russian government has been building an internal, ‘sovereign’ Internet, separated from the global network. If realised, Russians will be blocked from accessing information and reliable news. The move will hamper civil society’s ability to communicate and engage with others, both inside and outside Russia. Anti-war and pro-democracy sentiments in Russia will be further stifled.
In recent days, several tech companies headquartered in the United States and the European Union, including Cogent, one of the world’s largest Internet service providers, have cut off, or threatened to cut off, their services to Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
ARTICLE 19 has emphasised that moves to limit Russia’s access to digital services will be detrimental to the work of civil society groups based in the country and prevent people from accessing vital, independent information.
Cutting Russia off from Internet services could also be construed as justification for Russian authorities to continue its pursuit of a network cut off from the global Internet.
ARTICLE 19 supports its Russian partner organisation Roskomsvoboda, which advocates for digital rights, access to information and an open Internet. ‘We believe that access to the Internet and electronic means of communication is vital, because only with objective information are people able to take right and timely decisions that can save their lives and protect their inalienable rights and freedoms,’ it said in a statement this week.
At a time when a large part of the global community is demanding an end to the bloodshed in Ukraine and for human rights to be upheld, it is vital that people everywhere have access to an open, unfettered Internet: to communicate, to inform, and galvanise initiatives for peace and democracy.
Read the full statement from Roskomsvoboda here in Russian and English